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List segmentation is a key part to your metrics and helping your open rates, conversions and click-throughs. Segmentation in general has been a part of marketing for a long time. When you air a commercial, you put it on specific channels to market to a specific target audience; when you run a print ad, you put it in certain publications to target certain demographics. Those are segments. The choices you make in those traditional marketing mediums are driven by the idea that the campaign will be more productive if it reaches an interested, specific audience. Also, if you know your audience you can cater to their interests more accurately and give them information the way they like to receive it; making your message more relevant.
Email marketing is not different in the sense that it can be segmented; but that concept is often overlooked in email marketing because the marketing it self is so inexpensive so things end up getting mass messaged. You can’t send each person on your list a completely customized and unique message that speaks to his or her interests either, so you have to find a good medium. And that happy medium is list segmentation.
Mailing lists have to be segmented by a person, they cannot segment them selves; but if you are willing to put in the effort and test your lists, you can really see a difference. It doesn’t even have to be complicated, the easier the better actually. With fewer variables to test you don’t have to invest as much time. And sometimes, if you have too many variables for a small audience, it can be counter productive and statically unreliable. The best approach would be to keep things simple by starting with the data you have and looking at customers versus potentials, click throughs, etc. to create your parameters for your segments. Once you have created segmented lists, test variables between them and analyze your results. The process can be a little time consuming but is worth it considering that marketers usually see an uptick in opens and click throughs, as well as lower unsubscribe rates and spam complaints. The cost and time that you take with list segmentation can be offset by the gains you make in other areas and the positive affect it can have on your bottom line. Keeping segmentation simple can help you control the cost but still give you the improvements you want.
List segmentation is important to email marketing just as much as targeted marketing is important to every other marketing medium. Participation in segmentation is key to finding success in email marketing.